DACs

Wyred4Sound DAC-2 AND STI-500 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Recently the external DAC has made a bit of a comeback in popularity. While they were once most commonly paired with a digital transport, now you're more likely to see them hooked up as part of a home media server. With disk space now cheap enough that anyone can keep their entire collection archived in a lossless format, and even keep a backup copy of it around, people are using their PC to serve up their audio collection. However, getting the most out of that lossless archive has been a challenge for many as most computer sound cards left much to be desired in the audio quality realm. In this review, we cover the Wyred4Sound DAC-2 and STI-500 Integrated Stereo Amplifier.

Specifications

  • Wyred4Sound DAC-2
  • Inputs: Two Optical, Two Coaxial, USB, I2S HDMI, AES/EBU, Home Theater Bypass
  • Outputs: RCA, XLR
  • Sample Rates: Up to 24 bit/192 kHz
  • DAC: ESS Sabre32 ES9018
  • Dimensions: 4.1" H x 8.5" W x 13.5" D
  • Weight: 16 Pounds
  • MSRP: $1,499 USA
  • Wyred4Sound STI-500 Integrated Stereo Amplifier
  • Inputs: 4 pair RCA, 1 pair XLR, 12V Trigger
  • Outputs: 1 pair RCA, 12V Trigger
  • Power: 250 WPC at 8 ohm, 550 WPC at 4 ohm
  • Dimensions: 4" H x 17" W x 14.5" D
  • Weight: 19 Pounds
  • Price: $1,999 USA
  • Wyred4Sound

DAC manufacturers saw this and began to add USB inputs to their devices to allow for an easy way to get the audio from your computer to your stereo. While initial devices only supported CD-quality sample rates, newer models are supporting 24-bit, 96 kHz sample rates, and now even 24-bit, 192 kHz sample rates as well. One of the most talked about DAC chips to recently hit the market is the ESS Sabre32 line, most well known for being the DAC in the Oppo BDP-83SE universal player. This time, Wyred4Sound has taken a different model of Sabre32 chip, the top-of-the-line ES9018, and created a new line of DACs with the chip.

The first of their two initial models is the DAC-1, which features the ESS Sabre32 chip, two coaxial and two optical inputs, and a USB input supporting 16/48 audio bitrates with both balanced and unbalanced outputs. The DAC-2 model, which I reviewed, adds support for 24/192 bitrates over USB, AES/EBU and HDMI I2S inputs, a Home Theater bypass mode with RCA inputs, a 12V trigger in and out, and a volume control.

Wyred 4 Sound is most known for their Class D amplifiers, so I also had them provide me with their STI-500 integrated amplifier to get the most out of their DAC. Built around a pair of B&O ICEpower modules, the STI-500 provides 250 watts per channel at 8 ohm, or 550 watts at 4 ohm, giving you plenty of power for any speakers you might be looking to drive.